Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Lost Camera

Alas, I visited the beautiful Eastern Shore in Virginia this past weekend. As much as I love plants, this place was still beautiful without plants everywhere. It is an area that seems to be cut off from time. I was sad to return home to find that I'd left my favorite gauchos and my camera! It is being shipped to me, so I'll have to contain my eagerness to post until next week.

And while I was gone, I returned to find a glorious cattelya blooming. It's a deep red, large bloomed orchid. What a delight. I hope it lasts until I get my camera. Of course, some of you may have heard me say I want to get a real camera, which I kept telling myself I really needed all weekend. Could this ordeal of being without one be the selling point that forces me out to get one?

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Seeking Suggestions

So, I had this great idea for a walkway from the driveway to the pool...over the past two years, we've worn a path in the grass on this route. My wonderful hubby actually suggested the idea. I quickly decided that a gravel pathway would be best. Then as I traveled around and noticed people's gravel anything, I decided that that was not for Cannon Ball. I don't blow leaves and our laurel oaks are constantly dropping them. And I can't stand to see something uncared for.

Once the plants were finally in place and the curbing around front had cured, I put down weed cloth along what will be the pathway.

The journey around back begins here at the driveway.

Turning the curve, you find yourself staring at the fence,

which opens to the butterfly garden in the back. I thought about mulch for the pathway, but looking at the mulched beds now, I can't see how to distinguish the path from the planted beds (and I know that'd give me a reason to put things in the way of the path). Pavers seem a little expensive...

Sadly, I have grown rather fond of the black weedcloth pathway. It's soft and I tend to walk around barefoot quite a bit--not too hard on the knees either.

I want something that blends with the house (the other BB's requirement), something that is very low maintenance (no leaf blowing constantly...don't mind once in a while), something that will last a long time, and something that won't allow weeds to grow nor people to slip and fall.

Please fire away any and all ideas and if you know others, tell them to shoot me suggestions too. And if you need to see more photos of all of this, I'm happy to add. I have to complete the walkway before I can build the pergola.

Oh, some notes: Our patio is a paver patio with light colored pavers.

Our walkway from the drive to the front door will be these pavers, though not the same design:

The house is currently a pale beige, but will soon be a shade of green. Thoughts?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Butterfly Garden and Potting Area

It's been almost 2 months since I gave you the list of newbies. Well, I'm happy to say after much strife and worry, they are all in place. My new beauties have settled in their little holes and are starting to spread their wings.

This is my most faithful helper, Chance. We have just entered the butterfly garden through the fence gate. Hot sun most of the day; this view is on the east side of the house, nearest the fence, or the left side of the unfinished walkway. Here is a princess flower with its gaudy (but beautiful) purple blooms, yellow gallardia, red verbena, red coleus, native coreopsis, rosemary for remembrance (who all can guess whom it makes me remember?), butterfly weed, and red-leafed guara. That tall green stuff in the background is the famous bamboo wall.

This is red Mexican sage. There is a big bird of paradise behind it, which will soon find another home elsewhere in the yard as it is not happy here. The dark ruffled coleus in the front is absolutely stunning, and I adore it in any form and color.

As you look toward the back, you will see a pile of bricks poking up the side of the fence. One day, these are going to miraculously form a step down from the day...

So far, you've only seen the butterfly garden to the left of the walkway. This is the end of the garden on the right side of the walkway. I've attempted to hide the AC unit with canna lilies and purple fountain grass. It's worked from this view, but I'm still pondering what to do from the opposite angle.

As you progress along the walkway toward the "backyard", a large shade tree houses the very first bed I created here at Cannon Ball. This is a view.

This is a Lady Di heliconia, and yes, the image is dark. There was a thunderstorm brewing yesterday when I returned home from the Garden Fun. More on that later. The backdrop is an oak leaf roof over the shade bed that started this garden madness. The fern is a kangaroo fern, and it wants to be divided, but I've been a little lazy this summer. Yes, those are plastic pink flamingos in the backyard. I'm in Florida. I had to have some.

They guard and protect my new plants, as right in front of this is the "potting area" where new plants are quarantined in the yard before they become home.

I guess the reason I've chosen this place is: it's shady so any new plants can adjust but does get some afternoon sun for about an hour. It's right off the back porch so I can easily check up on the newbies. And when they are there, they are in my face to be placed, so I don't forget them.

So, what do I have in the holding area? Let's see, 2 pagoda flowers, a red-leafed hibiscus, a jatropha that looks like marijuana, Swedish Ivy, some new elephant ears, some old elephant ears I'm trying to save, Kimberly ferns, coleus rootings, a cassia tree, 2 variegated cannas, a new begonia, some new bromeliads, a vine (which are very dangerous in this state)...

.....and some plants I've thrown out in the shade bed--only to discover a year later that they came to life in the shade bed. Another post for later--"The Bed of Life"

Well, we have another storm brewing, so I think I'll put down the computer and listen to the bamboo chatter.

Monday, July 5, 2010

More Plants, Lots of Rain

The guy who mows the yard is going to rip out the sod along the sides of the house, back to the porch and re-sod the area directly in front of the house. They started this on Thursday. They came and cut the grass, and cut the parts for removal down to almost bare ground. They were supposed to show up on Saturday and complete the project. I was so antsy, I could hardly contain myself. I could finally begin plopping this plethora of beauty into the ground and see the transformation take a permanent shape. However, much to my dismay, the rain delayed everything.

Note--the summer is rainy season here. And we love it, and we need it. Sand doesn't hold water, so these little pop up thunderstorms build from the seabreeze that blows in from the Gulf, and it rains almost daily around 4-6 pm somewhere near. I mean, rains! It comes a flood. However, you always, almost, wake up to a bright sunny Florida morning. This June, we've had 0 rain--I mean 0 until the last 5 days of June. Then somehow, we managed to get a whopping 3". That may sound good, but our average is something like 6-8". So, still not great. Anyhoo, the past week, that 3" has come right at the end of June, and as July rolled in, so did a front that has stalled out over us. And with it has come rain...rain, rain, rain. We've had 2 complete days of no sunshine, and 0.5", under 0.25", 2", 4" (and the rain gauge got tipped to the side, so I didn't account for all the rain that day), and no total yet today, but I woke to rain, and it's rained all day and is still raining. So, in under 8 days, that's 10+" of rain. FABULOUS!!!

There's just one problem. The sod farms can't cut sod, which means I didn't get my lawn re-sodded, and this rain would have been great. The worst part, though, (because I could give 2-blanks less about grass) is that my lawn guy has yet to come and rip out the sod, so I can't plant my plants. Boo-hoo. I'm very upset about this, but there's nothing I can do. I just hope that when the rain does clear for a day or so, that it doesn't just stop. And it probably will...the day we get the sod re-laid. Oh well, my lawn guy has guaranteed me that he will at least have the sod ripped out by the time the concrete curbing guys get here on Saturday. Well, it's Monday. He has 5 days counting today. I'm trying not to bite my nails over this. In fact, I clipped them very short to avoid it. --Just kidding, I clipped them because I could not get all the dirt out from under my finger nails.

Ok, so if I can't plant plants, I can certainly go get more. Dear Mom and Dad visited this weekend, and if there's one thing my Mom and I know how to do, it's garden and shop. So, we garden shopped!

Here's the list to add to the other one:

Princess flower
Firecracker plant
Carrie Mango tree (yes, a tree and it had a mango on it!)
4 Allamandas (1 just wasn't enough)
2 Thryallis
Coral Porterweed
Native Gallardia (that's yellow blanket flower--or ditch weed according to my cracker friend Kenny)
Salvia, pink
Diamond frost (I have no idea why, because everyone has some, I guess)
2 Big hanging begonias--for the shade gardens
Bronze fennel--host to the swallowtail butterfly)
Chocolate mint--I don't know how, but I killed mine last year
Lemon balm--I'll wish I hadn't; it spreads to the point of being invasive
Peppermint--same reason as the chocolate, except there's a story here for another post

Wow! That's it? Ok, well, I thought there were more. Sorry, it's raining and I can't take photos. Perhaps, when the rain breaks.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The New Landscape

So, I won't digress with all the before and after photos yet...however, I must tell you I've accumulated quite a selection of plants for the 3 new beds going in with construction beginning next Saturday. I'll upload before photos this week--I promise!! However, this is a list of the plants planned so far for the 3 beds and some snapshots...let me tell you--for the ones sitting in the flower beds--I wished my flower bed they are sitting in really looked like this. Hopefully, it will within a couple of years.

So, first, I've found a nursery: Colorfield Farms in Wimauma, FL, a nice short drive from Kerry's house. And this is what I found there. I must say that Kerry has talked me into going back and getting a mango tree.

Sun coleus assorted 10
Small zinnias assorted 5
Cannas 1 red, 1 yellow
Mint pink blooming kind 2
Thryalis 2
Cupheas—2 each of 3 different kinds
Gaura—4 white and 4 short red tipped pink
Verbena—2 red, 1 dark purple
Firebush 3
Porterweed 2
Mexican sage 2 red
Coneflowers 3
Black eyed susan 3
Pentas 3 white, 3 red
Lantana 2 white
Butterfly milkweed—4 yellow, 5 multi
Lavendar English like my old one at Mom’s
Big tall begonia
Falmingo plume flower
Epidendrum orchid
2 tall purple flowers (don’t know the name)

As if that's not enough...we found out Friday that the leaky p-trap we thought we had in the guest bathroom was really a we had to replace the faucets. Ok, that's a post for another day, but you can probably imagine that my trip to Home Depot was like telling a gambling addict to go in a casino and buy a meal but not gamble. Yeah, right! So, here's the damage done there:

6 thyme
2 cillantro
Purple coneflower 3
Firebush 4
Variegated flax lily 4
purple fountain grass 2
white fountain grass 2
st bernard’s lily 4
4 orange bulbine
Pink gaura 6
3 lavendar lantana, 1 white lantana
3 false spirea

Well, I hope you're as anxious and excited as I am. They rip out the sod next Saturday, and I am just itching to start plopping these plants in the ground. Might I also add that we've had butterflies, but since I've brought these flowers home, they've really flocked in and some I've never seen before. This is going to be awesome!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Beautiful Orchids

I cannot believe I have let my blog fall wayside. I don't even have time to read the blogs I love so dearly anymore. I know I keep saying this, but I've decided to re-do my blog design and begin to post again. I created this blog on a whim and didn't really have the blog "design" concept in my head good enough to make one that people will want to read, so after learning a few new tricks, and deciding what the main themes to my posts will be, I am ready...but won't have the new blog up and going until August 25. I still have a few big projects to complete...

For now, I want to share with you my spring surprises. I got my first orchid as a Valentine's Day gift from BB in 2004. I had never before had the right light to grow orchids until I moved into my little apartment--which I adored. It was a beautiful fuschia pink. That was in Knoxville where you had to grow orchids inside; they couldn't handle the winters.

Then in August 2005, I said goodbye to Knoxville and all its beauty sitting in the valley of the Appalachian Mountains and moved to Ft. Benning, GA. I was very reluctant to move to Ft. Benning...not reluctant, I was thrilled. BB and I had been back together for about a year and a half. We were newly weds of 1 year and we hadn't even lived together yet. So, yes, the move was wonderful, but I loved my Smoky Mountains and the life I had in Knoxville, so I was very sad to go. I had wonderful friends, a beautiful playground to romp in on the weekends, and a very nice campus to call work--which I miss very much still.

Well, with this move went all my potted plants. Now, I left Mississippi in 2001, and a whole host of plants went with me when I did. I know I have at least one that left with me then, survived Knoxville, and made the trip down to Ft. Benning, GA. I leave plants every where I go. Now that I really think back, there are plants that I've brought and left part of behind in every home I've ever lived: little shack in Iuka ext to Mrs. Fredericks, House on the hill in Corryton, TN, apartment complex (yes on the ground floor outside the little patio) in Knoxville, TN, Ft. Benning, GA, and here. Well, those are stories for later, I suppose.

Ft. Benning was wonderful. The winters were much milder. We had our cold days, but not nearly as long and as many as in Knoxville. It was that I could grow tropicals out on the screened in front porch even in the winter. Wonderful! I accumulated many orchids while there. They would grow outside in the summer, and in the house in our bedroom with tons of windows in the winter. They did well, but they didn't bloom often, and when they did, they would only last for a couple of weeks, and not all at the same time either. I fed them and they were beautiful plants but with no blooms most of the time.

Carefully, I transported the largest covered pull trailer you can get from U-Haul full of plants to our new home in Riverview, FL May 2008. (That's a lot of plants to relocate in a 300 mile move.) I'm like that though--moves, I'm known for heavy furniture, stone, and plants. Well? Everyone has something they love. In the vehicles, came 18 orchids.

First, they lived out in the yard on the ground; then they moved to the trees. Then winter came and they moved to the lanai. Then they moved back out in the trees in the spring where they lived until last November or December. Again, back to the lanai; indoors only very few nights this past winter, but that's supposed to even be unusual. Since then, they've been on the lanai, with about 15 added to the collection. I believe actually a few more, but am not sure. So, in March they began putting on buds. This lasted for awhile, each one slowing showing up with buds. I guessed they would bloom here and there. One yellow one began to show its beauty.

Then other began to pop out...well, take a look for yourself. I'm quite happy. And as sad as I am, my dear brother whose lived here all his life is moving to California, and has willed me to be the caretaker of his orchids. They are pretty amazing. They make mine look small, but to have them altogether will be pretty spectacular.

Enjoy the show...

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Road Trip #2: Picking up Chance from Camp Bow Wow

Are you beginning to see the theme about dogs being an ever constant part of my daily being by my posts?

Today makes the 11th straight day I have worked. It makes the 3rd night I've been home after work (and home before 11 pm) in those 11 days. I absolutely did not think I was going to make it. I've acquired an allergy to something in the air...and my throat is extremely sore, sneezes, sniffles, feel achy, feel I got up and took Chance to Camp Bow Wow today. They usually wear him out enough that I can rest in the evenings when he goes there for a day. And I had a lot of homework to do today.

I got off work, beat...went to pick up Chance, and encountered a person who'd broken down on the road. I pulled into Bow Wow, and hung out with Moe for a minute. When the lady there to pick up her dog, and the lady who didn't look like the type to drop her dog off at Day Care left, Moe told me that her car had broke down, and she'd been in there for the longest trying to bum money.

I do not understand people and their nerve. She'd asked Moe to loan her a dollar...ok, he works at Bow Wow, not exactly making a know, if the lady had looked like she could half way stand on her own two feet without being a bum moocher, I'd have done anything in the world for her. But I can't stand people who just think because they ask you for a dollar that you should give it to them. And then when you say no, they ask again. What the fuck? Pardon my language, but I have seen days where I had absolutely not a penny to my name. I had no idea what I was going to eat for dinner, and did not know what I would be doing the next day--and I never asked a soul that I didn't know from Adam for a penny. I don't get it. I don't get people like that.

It makes me sad for them--that no one ever took the time to teach them about humanity, about morals, about human responsibility. I wonder how their life would have been different if someone had have cared about them when they were young. I'm sad for those people. I wanted to help this lady; yet, her mere personality showed me right away that she was used to just bumming her way through life, and she felt entitled to it.

Thank God I had someone to love me, to teach me that I'm not owed anything in life, that nothing but death is guaranteed, to teach me to love and pass on that love. I have often wondered what my path is here. I want to succeed, and I want to live by the sea (which unfortunately requires money)--but more than that, I've always wanted to garden, to help people, to be around people, and to share leading them. I wonder if I am discovering my calling?

Sarah Susanka's book, The Not So Big Life, has had a lasting effect on me. If you read, and you are a philosophic person, you will enjoy this. It transforms your life, I'm not totally transformed, and I have a very long journey ahead of me, but I see the world in a different light than I used to. If you listen to your inner self, you will begin to see that things and people in life present themselves to you as you learn who you are and what you desire to be. They will present themselves to you without your looking for them, and at just the right times.

I've noticed that pattern too in the past 2 or 3 years; if I think back, I've noticed it for most of my life, but I really began to become attuned to that a couple of years ago.

Was my encounter with this worthless person a call to my service to humanity? I'd love to take people like that and force them to learn to be responsible and appreciative by taking them to some 3rd world country and helping a village develop in agriculture. WOW! Teach them to help these people become part of the rest of the developed world--and as they do, to become developed themselves. People in America (and everywhere else), they forget how much they really have to offer the rest of the world.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Road Trip #1: Back to Ft. Benning

Brian sold his truck tonight. And the events that unfold around it to me are, well, strange. Ok, first of all, Brian got a new truck right after Christmas. Me, when I do something like that, I talk about it for awhile, then I go find one, look at it, then I contemplate it. Brian he talked about doing it in 5 months or so. He goes to look at a truck one day, and that night he bought it. Digressing as always, sorry...

So, his red truck has been on post for sale. No one in Lake St. Charles knew it was for sale besides our neighbors. When I got home from work today, he said a guy had looked at his truck today on post, asked if he could have a mechanic look at it, and that the guy lived in Lake St. Charles. I was like ok, whatever...

Tonight, we got back from running, and Brian got a phone call. The guy had decided to buy his truck was coming by to pay for the truck. So, when he did, I was on the backporch with Chance as usual...I walked into the house, leaving Furface to watch. I met the couple, and we chatted for a few minutes.

We got to talking about kids, and then dogs, and they mentioned their dog had recently passed away at the age of 13. They said she was huge--110 lbs, and white. They had prefaced all of that with she was a very attention-drawing dog, who looked larger than life, and who was a gentle giant. I immediately knew who the dog was...the first time I laid eyes on that dog was June 2008...4 months after Charlie died. I did a double-take while driving, and stopped to ask the lady about this magnificent dog.

She was beautiful, thick soft coat, and a big bushy plume of a tail. I could tell that in her day she'd been a beauty, and she also reminded me of my forever dog, Charlie. They looked so much alike that it was amazing, because I'd never seen a dog look like Charlie. The days following turning into a year, I would peak over the fence if I saw her walk down the street. She brought both a smile and a tear and this sense of a heart that still has a strong beat. Her name was Shatzy.

It took me until tonight to learn that she was an Italian Mountain Dog and they found her as a stray there. How odd that the people who own a dog in my neighborhood that looks identical to Charlie bought Brian's truck. I've been thinking of him a lot lately. I do that a lot still anyway, because I find myself saying that a lot. Perhaps it's that I look for him, his spirit in people, places, but every now and then, like tonight, I'm reminded that he's still with me. And with every thought there's still that choke in the throat, smile on my face, and big tears just about to spill over my eyelids, and I remember........

such a wonderful experience. I've been so miserable, and so rotten for the past two weeks, that I now remember what it was I learned from him. Don't take a single day for granted. And the big stuff really doesn't matter. And the little things are just pebbles.

So, for a bit, I've sat here and recalled in my mind the times I had at Ft. Benning. From when we moved in and Hurricane Ivan came through to meeting Hallie and Diesel the first time to watching Charlie run up the hill one morning with Diesel's leash in his leaving a piece of Charlie at Russ Pond. I need to sit down and write about all those times, before they too slip by me like so many other memories have.

Call it coincidence. Call it karma. Call it weird. Call it thinking things into being. I believe that all things happen for a reason, though we may not understand it at the time. I believe in karma, and I believe that if you choose to open your mind to something, it will present itself. Whatever the case, today was a very magical day in my life. Some of the magic was white and good, and some was dark and bad, but the point I now know is IT WAS MAGICAL.

I hope your day was magical too.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Road Trip Beginnings

Brr! I said Brr, Florida!! Wow, it was 31 degrees this morning. It's supposed to be cold like that here all week! How unusual for this area, well, that's what I was told when I moved here. The low was *usually* around 50. Well, it's been below freezing both winters I've been here. And while it's warmer and I LOVE that!--I want some Florida winters that don't get below 50.

I was just looking back over the past year. I know, it's a little late for that, right? Well, I realized that what I have now is all I need. I've always known that, but I had an *Aha* moment. I've been married to a man that I loved over 18 years for 5 years now, and we are blissfully happy. Yes, we bicker, but I think that keeps the relationship healthy. I have a healthy family, all wonderful people. I am able to go to the beach just about any weekend I want to and just listen to the waves crashing on the beach. Watch the fisherman go by, pelicans as they fish, big fish, sharks, and dolphins swim by, and manatees. Birds, there are so many wonderful birds here to see!

So, I am at peace with my inner being. And I now realize that this year's quest is to follow that being down the path to the rest of my life. It's a very long and winding path, so I better hit the road.

So, if you'd like, join me. I think it's long overdue time for a road trip. We'll call this Road Trip...2010. I don't mean a road trip home...I go there a lot. I mean, I've got a year to see lots of Florida that I have yet to see, and it's already January 4.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Enter New Year 2010

Twenty-ten, it's here. I've done what I find that I do on the first of every year, say I'm going on a diet, while pigging out. Laying around the house, being cold (what's with that Florida?), but sorting out all of the nooks and crannies in the house and throwing out what needs to leave...usually, I can get lots of these things together. This year, I'm happy to report that there isn't much to throw out. I've done good over the year. No huge purchases...Well, none that are leaving.

So, in addition to getting off to a good start with maintaining peace, balance, and organization to this house, I've also decided to get back to exercise...starting P90X in the morning at about 67% of the required "Bring It"...I need to ease into it. I'm in the worst shape I've ever been in. I weigh 160 pounds. I don't know what any woman perceives that as, but it doesn't fit this body. I have got to lose 25 pounds this year. And that is my mission.

So is having a 4.0...and it all starts with Sustainable Marketing. A grueling course that lasts 12 class meetings in 4 weeks. And sales meeting requiring me to work all weekend one weekend...blegh. I will relish in the new year and a new change in pace, but I long for February...taxes, my financial plans into motion, and longer warmer days, time to roam...which we have to decide where to roam. Oh, and I almost forgot!!! My trip to GRENADA!!